“The real problem is people hating people and the political games that result. If the politics were ever settled, Africa would feed itself just fine.” A worker for Food for the Hungry International.
Today, the world will increase by 230,000 people. With the world’s population increasing by approximately 84 million people each year the demand on once readily available resources means that more and more of the world’s population become victims to the lack of basic needs such as shelter, food and water. Today, 98% of the world’s population growth is in the developing world. In a list of the world’s poorest nations, Muslim nations, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia, make up almost half.
Access to clean and safe water has become one of the greatest needs on the planet. Inadequate infrastructure has resulted in one quarter of the developing world, more than one billion people, from being able to access clean water. Almost ten million people die each year from water-related illnesses such as cholera.
The world is full of hungry people. Approximately 20% of the developing world is chronically undernourished. There are literally millions of hungry children, with 19,000 dying each day from starvation.
More than 99% of all our food comes from the land, with rice, corn and wheat providing at least 80% of food worldwide. 70% of agriculture is devoted to cereal crops.
More than half the world’s labour force is involved in farming, yet even with healthy crops the global food supply still falls short. Agriculture requires more water than any other activity and accounts for 80% of the total global water usage.
Nutritionally, the sub-Saharan region of Africa is one of the worst effected areas despite its’ rich volcanic soil. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation one of the reasons is because the majority of African farmers cannot afford adequate seed or tools. An entire family farm will own just one hoe.
War and military conflict add to the problems of hunger. In one central African country a flood of refugees fleeing civil war devoured the food supply of an entire region leaving the local villagers hungry. It took a full 2 years of hard labour to harvest another crop. However, that crop was then stolen by soldiers.
While governments and aid-agencies provide assistance, one of the greatest needs is for political stability. Military conflict and landmines leave farming areas barren wastelands, farmers become soldiers, refugees swarm and settle like locusts. The issues concerning whether or not the world can feed itself is almost entirely a political one.
Numbers of Poor and Needy
There are more than 2 billion people suffering ongoing poverty and hardship every day. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees there are over 23 million refugees and a further 26 million displaced within their own countries. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlement estimate that one in every four people on earth live in urban slums.
Within the 60 poorest nations of the world live 60% of the Muslim world. 75% of the world’s refugees come from Muslim nations. More than half of the world’s poor and needy are Muslims.
There are many reasons why suffering occurs and a variety of responses. We, as Christians, must stop and listen to the cries of the poor and needy and be able to respond as Jesus would. Let us not be overwhelmed, but let us be moved with compassion. Relying on God’s strength and motivated by God’s heart we are to be people of mercy, a people of justice, and a people of faith!
Where is the hope for the Poor and Needy?
Many people think of Muslims as rich oil sheiks or religious fanatics, portrayed regularly by the world’s media. However, most Muslims are actually poor and struggle to meet their daily needs. The majority of nations with the worst basic health conditions are also predominately Muslim.
Women and children bear the brunt of the forces of poverty and malnutrition. However, there are many men who attempt to provide for their families under these harsh conditions and should not be forgotten.
Although there are many reasons for poverty within the Muslim world, a major reason is the hopelessness that often grips their lives. “Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint.” (Proverbs 29:18). As restraint is cast off many fall into the clutches of sin that affects their life, their families, their community, and their nation. In the absolutely worst cases, men stop providing for their family and work only to provide for themselves. While on the other hand desperate parents sell their daughters for unimaginable exploitations such as prostitution and slavery. Often the eldest child is pushed out of the house at a young age, making the child extremely vulnerable to the elements of a corrupt society. Fearful parents marry their daughters at a young age to avoid the possibility of the girl not being a virgin on her wedding night and so that they do not have to provide for her any longer. The ugly face of poverty creates and contributes to a variety of woes so hideous that only our heavenly Father can bear their pain.
Yet even as we consider the incredible need among the poor and needy, we can still have immense hope, for in Christ God has given us the answer. There is no doubt that the Kingdom of God can come to each and every poor Muslim community. God wants to release programs for every social ill, plans to solve every individual problem, and compassionate Christian workers for every people group! Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers for each of these nations who have such immense needs.
Pray for the poor and needy of the Muslim world
* Pray for the millions of Muslims who are both physically and spiritually hungry (John 4:7-14).
* Pray for those Muslims who are suffering physical hardship as a result of a lack of basic shelter, food and water (Isaiah 58:6-7).
* Pray for undernourished Muslim children, particularly those in North and Sub-Sahara Africa (Jeremiah 14:22).
* Pray for real solutions to the political crisis affecting many Muslim nations (Jeremiah 17:5-8).